30 September 2011

One of the Mistakes Parents Make...

Explaining the reasons for your commands.

I suspect a number of mothers may disagree with me. Women have a tendency to talk things out, and where Father will usually say, "Do as you're told," Mother will have the desire to have a 30-minute conversation explaining why the child must do as he's told.

The problem with the second approach is that it fosters in the child a sense of entitlement for justification for his obedience. It's easy to fall into the trap: Mom says, "It's time for bed," and little Joey asks, "Why can't I stay up a little?" The unwitting parent takes the bait, and actually answers the child's question--as if the she must justify her reasons for sending him to bed. And a back-and-forth ensues in which Mom grows increasingly frustrated, and perhaps in a few minutes ends up losing her temper; she may afterwards feel so bad about it that, in order to avoid similar confrontations in the future, she would rather cave in and let the child stay up the extra 15 minutes instead of demanding that he go to bed at his regular bedtime.

The problem with this (among many), as an astute Catholic counselor once observed, is that it lowers standards for our children, who are--just as much as we--called to "be perfect, as Your Heavenly Father is perfect." (Matt 5:48) Our Lord never lowers the standard for us, but demands that we rise--as stumblingly as we often do, and as much as we may fight against it--to the heights of perfection. It is all borne of His love for us, and that same love must motivate parents to be willing to endure the tantrums and kickback that occur when we expect prompt obedience from our children. That sort of love requires growing some spine.

If we don't correct the bad habit, little Joey eventually grows up to be big, stocky, tall Joey, with little respect for authority, and big problems with obedience, neither of which will help him make his way through life as a Catholic called to perfection. And you will have no one but yourself to blame, Mom (or Dad!).

29 September 2011

I like this idea

I don't wear lip gloss, but Fr. Z's suggestion on how to annoy liberal priests is a good one...

Noblesse Oblige

The state of our contemporary society sheds light on the fact that when women "no longer know how to blush," it is a portent that this society is on the verge of moral collapse. Women carry a heavy share of the guilt because they betray their human and moral mission. When women are pure, men will respect, nay, venerate them; they will also hear the call challenging them to chastity.

--Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

28 September 2011

In the aforementioned interview with Bp. Fabian Bruskewitz, he recounted an anecdote of Abp. Sheen that had me laughing out loud. Back when Bp. Bruskewitz was a priest, he had the good archbishop over for dinner, along with Austrian Cardinal Franz König (whose aim was to ensure the peaceful coexistence of communism and the Catholic Church). Apparently the two were going back and forth about the issue, and, according to Bruskewitz, Bp. Sheen was hitting the ball out of the park each time. At one point, the Cardinal said, "I believe communism is preparing the soil for the spread of Christianity in Europe." Without hesitation, Bp. Sheen replied, "Yes, yes, it's the manure... it's the manure..."

Vendée: Journées de la Mémoire

1 & 2 October, La Chapelle-Basse-Mer, France: Historical reenactment of battles in royalist, Catholic Vendée, along with conferences by, among others, Reynald Secher (author of the excellent and thorough work A French Genocide), rounded out by Vendean repasts.
Related to my previous post, Rorate Caeli posts a discussion on the gravest problem in the modern Church:
Translation problems? Mass celebrated towards the people? Altar girls? Postures?

No, the greatest and gravest problem of the liturgy of the Latin Church - that is, of the "Ordinary form", or Mass of Paul VI - is one that transcends all this, even it is related to all of them: it is the way the Body of Christ is treated.
(1) Any human being who has ever had any experience with any edible object based on a milled product knows that crumbling is a natural part of the process of consuming it: loaves, wafers, cookies, biscuits, crackers, tortillas, nachos - it does not matter, fragmentation takes place.

(2) Catholics believe that the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ are truly present in each of the Consecrated Species, and completely in every single and minute fragment of it.

Because of (1) and (2), the Church was traditionally extremely careful regarding the distribution of Holy Communion. That meant reducing to the minimal imaginable level the possibility that any Fragment of the Body of Christ, even the smallest one, might be profaned or lost.
What the liturgical innovations following the Council did was to inculcate Catholics with the notion that the Fragments of the Body of Christ do not matter
Worth reading in full.

Investiture Ceremony for the Royal Order of St. Michael of the Wing

Congratulations to Michael Voris on being invested as knight this past weekend in Portugal.

There is some debate as to whether this is a dynastic order or an ancient chivalric institution recently revived. In my unlearned opinion I'll go with the former, if for no other reason than for brevity's sake; when asked, it's much easier to answer "dynastic order" than "ancient chivalric institution, originally founded as an order, subsequently revived by the dynastic successor of the founding authority." What a mouthful...

Our friend Fr. M once had lunch with the Grandmaster of the Order, and details a private conversation with the Duke that should leave any faithful Catholic pleased...

Traditional & Modern Perspectives

Fr. Chad Ripperger, FSSP, whose site Sensus Traditionis I cannot recommend highly enough, wrote an article some years back examining the mindset between the traditionalist and more modern mindset among orthodox Catholics, and explains why each mystifies the other. An excerpt:
It now becomes clearer why there is a kind of psychological suspicion between neo-conservatives and traditionalists: they have fundamentally different perspectives. The neo-conservatives have psychologically or implicitly accepted that extrinsic tradition cannot be trusted, whereas the traditionalists hold to the extrinsic tradition as something good, i.e. something which is the product of the wisdom and labour of the saints and the Church throughout history. For this reason, the fundamental difference between neo-conservatives and traditionalists is that the neo-conservative looks at the past through the eyes of the present while the traditionalist looks at the present through the eyes of the past.
I find that to be spot on. Blessed Cardinal Newman once said, "To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant." In a similar vein, to be deep in our Catholic patrimony is to cease to be "neoCatholic". I don't use that as a term of abuse; I simply mean to differentiate that group of Catholics who think the Magisterium essentially began at Vatican II, and know little of what came before. It is our duty as Catholics, though, to learn about our faith, not just the recent bits, but the entire deposit of faith. If we do not, we have a woefully inadequate appreciation of our tradition, and our faith--as vibrant and deep as it may be--suffers.

Case in point: the argument about receiving Holy Communion on the tongue vs. on the hand. The modern mindset--which only takes into account the present--tends to think reception on the hand is simply not a big deal, that it all really comes down to personal preference, and that any Catholic who is bothered by it is some pharisaical reactionary obsessed with "inessentials."

The traditionalist, on the other hand, takes into account the entire history of the Church from the beginning, the practices in place for 1500 years, and notices the absolute rupture between the way the Sacred Species has been treated for most of the Church's history and the way it is treated now. It is true that in the primitive Church, communion was received in the hand--but note well: the communicant had to wash his hands thoroughly beforehand, make a profound act of adoration before the Eucharist, and then a cloth was draped over his palm, on which the Sacred Host was placed; the communicant then bent his head and received directly on the tongue. The other hand could never touch the Host; if he deliberately picked it up with the other hand, it would have been grounds for serious sanctions. Of course, the Church in Her wisdom developed more stringent rules for receiving Holy Communion in order to further protect the Host from desecration or irreverence, eradicating reception on the hand entirely.

It is with this long view in mind that the traditionalist considers with a measure of horror and sadness the way Holy Communion is casually received in 99% of parishes today; the fact that the practice began as an abuse, and was only ratified by the Church as an indult never meant "to be put into practice indiscriminately"; the serious potential for widespread desecration; all these, combined with the statistical fact that nearly 3/4 of Catholics don't even believe in the Real Presence, and therefore eat and drink judgment on themselves (and too many priests, in the interest of being "pastoral" and for fear of causing offense, fail to warn about the requirements for receiving in the state of grace, thus making themselves complicit in the possible damnation of these souls)...

I'll let Fr. Ripperger close here on another accurate note:
Liturgically, traditionalists judge the Novus Ordo in light of the Mass of Pius V and the neo-conservatives judge the Tridentine Mass, as it is called, in light of the Novus Ordo. This comes from the Hegelianism which holds that the past is always understood in light of the present, i.e. the thesis and antithesis are understood in light of their synthesis. This leads to a mentality that newer is always better, because the synthesis is better than either the thesis or the antithesis taken alone. Being affected by this, the neo-conservatives often assume or are incapable of imagining that the current discipline of the Church may not be as good as the prior discipline. There is a mentality today which holds that "because it is present (Hegelianism), because it comes from us (immanentism), it is necessarily better."

Furthermore, neo-conservatives love the Church and have a strong emotional attachment to the magisterium which causes them to find it unimaginable that the Church could ever falter, even with regard to matters of discipline. Like the father who loves his daughter and therefore has a hard time imagining her doing anything wrong, neo-conservatives have a hard time conceiving that the Holy Ghost does not guarantee infallibility in matters of discipline or non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching. Traditionalists, confronted by a Church in crisis, know that something has gone wrong somewhere. As a result, they are, I believe, more sober in assessing whether or not the Church exercises infallibility. That, allied to their looking at the present through the eyes of the past, helps the traditionalists to see that the onus is on the present to justify itself, not the past.
For a truly wonderful little book on the history of reception of Holy Communion--endorsed by Cardinal Ranjith when Secretary of the Congregation for Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments--see Bishop Athanasius Schneider's Dominus Est! Drawing on the early Church and saints, he forcefully shows why a return to kneeling and reception on the tongue would be a great good to the modern Church.

27 September 2011

The Michaelmas Goose

Some years ago I roasted goose for Michaelmas, and haven't attempted it since. I think I'll revive the tradition this year.

Nice recipe for Michaelmas Goose with Potato Apple Stuffing, along with Irish history.

26 September 2011

I need a vacation

Casa Alta Royal Lodge in Ourem, Portugal, is run by a Catholic priest. Gorgeous. (The lodgings, not the priest.) And prices are very reasonable.

I think I'll take the Duchess of Braganza suite.

24 September 2011

Fascinating, in-depth interview with Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska.

After hearing about disheartening actions of certain bishops, how refreshing to see a shepherd of the flock speaking with such clarity and conviction.
For me, the real anger didn’t come until later when I actually went through with the abortion. I’m not saying it’s ever easy for anyone, but all I could think about that day was the sonogram and that hand. There were tears streaming down my face when I was going under. I remember the anesthesiologist telling me, “Don’t worry, it won’t hurt,” and I remember thinking, That’s not what I’m crying about.

23 September 2011

Nope, No Crisis

Less than 3% of Catholics in France actually practice the faith.

Practicing Muslims outnumber practicing Catholics in France. And a number of Catholic churches shut down over the years will be turned into mosques.

Fr. Pavone Responds to Bloggers' Speculation

In his latest letter, he writes,
We are working out all the misunderstandings with my bishop here in Amarillo. As we do so, I’m amazed at how many people think they know more about the situation than I do, and pontificate on blogs and websites all over the place.
One commentator was silly enough to state that Priests for Life, as my “baby,” had to be given for adoption or would die. I have news for that person: Priests for Life isn’t a baby anymore; it is an adult, and a highly respected one. People like Alveda King, our fulltime priests, Janet Morana, Marie Smith, Bryan Kemper and others are fully engaged in the leadership of this family of ministries, and are fully accountable to and cooperative with Church authority, not only in individual dioceses but at the level of the Vatican. Moreover, as we recently announced (but some bloggers apparently missed), we have formed an International Private Association of the Faithful in full accordance with Church law.
It's clear which blogger he's writing about.

I have to post this at least once a year


Not an example of the "pastoral" approach...
Reluctant Sinner provides some thoughts on the rather unattractive liturgy of the papal Mass in Berlin, including discussion of the Bauhaus crucifix, horrid music, tacky green chasubles, and female altar servers (!).
I only saw two people receive the Host on the tongue, whilst the vast majority seemed to snatch Communion directly from the hands of the priest giving it to them. Of course, those receiving Communion from the Pope are required to kneel and receive on the tongue - though I spotted one rude and rebellious older man sticking his hands out as he semi-knelt before the Holy Father. Needless to say, the gentle Pope Benedict XVI placed the Host in the man's hands. It's probably true to say, though, that most pontiffs throughout the Church's history would have had the man removed!
What patience this pontiff must have to exercise.
Dans les hurlements de haine des gauchistes, j'entendais de faibles voix, ressemblant à celles de suppliciés récitant le Rosaire.
It looks like some of my concerns with regard to Paris's ban on Muslim street prayer have been realized, not by the secular government, but by French leftists, offended that the public prayer of Catholic pro-lifers "interfere[s] in our secular Republic."
The priest who was leading the Rosary and several others were assaulted, thrown to the ground and beaten. "It is one thing to disagree" writes Jean Vincent, "but to attack peaceful people, praying the Rosary, with a ratio of five to one is shameful".
The attacks were led by Partie Gauche.

Fr. Blake Threatened by Gay Dissidents

Across the pond, Fr. Ray Blake has been sent e-mails by gay activists threatening to report him to his superiors for his supposed "incitement to hatred", all because of statements he made about same-sex marriage.

22 September 2011

St. Philip Neri complained to God for having to deal with an exceedingly disagreeable and boorish individual. The Lord's response: "Philip, you have asked for patience. Here is the means of acquiring it."

Canadian Priest Suspended for Failure to Be "Pastoral"

Lifesite News is reporting that Fr. Donet Gionet, who caused an uproar by denouncing abortion and the homosexual lifestyle in a recent homily, has been suspended by his diocese.
85-year-old Fr. Donat Gionet had retired to his home town of Caraquet in June to serve palliative care patients, and now laments that in his declining years he is being forced to celebrate Mass “in secret.”
Fr. Wesley Wade, Vicar General, said,
It was mainly the pastoral approach that was lacking. A lack of respect, perhaps, for the people identified, for the groups of people as well, which caused a division in the community.
In other words, "We care more about your feelings than your souls."

Diocese of Phoenix to Limit Communion Under Both Kinds

In the Diocese of Phoenix, like other places where the practice of reception from the chalice became frequent or even commonplace, the new norms call for the practice of less frequent distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds than the faithful may have been accustomed.
The diocese will also consider limiting the number of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion:
In normal circumstances, only priests and deacons are to distribute Holy Communion. [W]hen both forms of Communion are used frequently, ‘extraordinary’ ministers of Holy Communion are disproportionately multiplied.

Not Sufficiently "Pastoral"

The Rev. Michael Rodriguez was transferred to a new parish because his stance on morality and the upcoming recall election "raised serious issues regarding whether his participation could be attributed to the Diocese of El Paso" and his parish, El Paso Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa said.
In Fr. Rodriguez's column, "Every Catholic Must Oppose Certain Things", he writes,
I urge all of the Catholic faithful to treat homosexuals with love, understanding, and respect. At the same time, never forget that genuine love demands that we seek, above all, the salvation of souls. Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls.
Abortion and homosexual acts are unequivocally intrinsic moral evils. And friends, this objective truth doesn't depend on the opinion of the majority. Frighteningly, if the majority chooses to deny the objective moral order, then we will all suffer the pestiferous consequences.
Bishop Ochoa distanced himself from such statements by responding in a column in the same paper:
I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church. The Church has been unmistakable about its consistent defense of the unborn … Likewise, the Church is a supporter of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. These teachings come from a tradition that wants to promote the good of society. My concern in writing this reflection is not to change these teachings, but to offer a more pastoral understanding in dealing with them. (emphasis added)
Note use of the well-worn term "pastoral" here.

As to Fr. Rodriguez's transfer, Bishop Ochoa raises the objection that Fr. Rodriguez's actions might jeopardize the diocese's non-profit 501(c)3 status by crossing over into political partisanship, but this is simply incorrect--the priest has done no more than clearly state Catholic doctrine in the public square, which he has every constitutional right to do. Priests for Life has been doing this for years, and they have been assured that their tax-exempt status is in no way threatened by doing so.

If you'd like to write the bishop a letter voicing your opinions, you may do so here: officeofthebishop@elpasodiocese.org
Speaking of flaccid, I was in the car listening to a call-in talk show hosted by an orthodox Catholic psychologist. One lady called in to ask whether or not she was expecting too much from her 15-year-old son to do a bit of community work occasionally, since she wanted to teach him the importance of helping others; the problem was that he didn't seem to like it much and was, like her, a bit of a homebody. The host asked what he would do in place of community work, and the mother replied, "Probably stay at home and listen to music."

The host very graciously told her that she was the mother and she set the rules in the house. Period. Full stop.

My dear mothers, you really must show some spine. I've gotten three children through the terrible twos (which often stretch to threes and fours), and I understand the complete frustration of disciplining them for the same things constantly and repeatedly, every day, for months on end. The temptation is to give way, particularly when dealing with the strong-willed child, because one gets tired of giving time-outs or of losing one's patience on a daily basis. I can assure you, though, that if you lay the groundwork now--as difficult and exhausting as it may be--you will save yourself massive amounts of frustration in the future. If you allow a child's wilfulness to grow and go unchecked, the little tantrums of today will turn into the monstrous outbursts and failures in self-control of tomorrow.

I once watched in horror at this exchange between a parent and her 4-year-old daughter. The mother had told her daughter to take ten bites of her veggies.
Child: Ohhh, do I have to? Can I just take 6 bites?

Mom: I want you to take 10 bites.

Child: But I only want to take 6. Please, please, can I just take 6 bites?

Mom: No, I want you to take 10 bites.

Child: Mom, please? Just 6 bites, ok? Please?

Mom: You have to take 10 bites.

Child: Please, please, please, 6 bites?

Mom: Ok, how about 7 bites?

Child: Ok!
Oh dear. I can see the same conversation taking place 10 years on, except this time it will be about whether or not she can wear that halter top and miniskirt on a date with her boyfriend. "No." "Please." "No." "Please." "No." "Please!" "Well, ok, but wear a sweater over it."

The same conversation would have gone this way in my home:
Me: I want you to take 10 bites.

Child: Could I just take 6 bites?

Me: Excuse me?

Child: [frowning]

Me: What is the proper response when I ask you to do something?

Child: [reluctantly] Yes, Ma'am.

Me: Thank you. Now eat your food.

Child eats.
And after she's dutifully eaten the requisite bites, she smiles very proudly at her achievement, shows Mom her finished plate, and Mom gives her a big hug.

Canon 915: Example of Accommodation

Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion. --Canon 915
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., though he is to be commended for having stood with Kansas Bishop Naumann in denying Holy Communion to pro-abort HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, consistently justified allowing Catholic pro-abort politician Nancy Pelosi to present herself to receive the Sacrament.

"[T]he Church just didn’t use Communion [as a] weapon," he says. "I stand with the great majority of American bishops and bishops around the world in saying this canon was never intended to be used this way."

But he wouldn't stand with the Supreme Pontiff himself, who wrote back in 2004 in the document "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion", as then-Prefect of the CDF:
Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

When ‘these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, ‘the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it’.

This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.
Cardinal Wuerl is the same one who mysteriously denied permission at the last minute for a Pontifical Traditional Latin Mass to be held at the National Shrine in D.C. He is also the one who--against the clear meaning of Summorum Pontificum--required diocesan priests to first be reviewed and receive his permission before celebrating the TLM. (Compare Wuerl's icy welcome of Summorum Pontificum to the enthusiasm of Cardinal Raymond Burke, when Archbishop of St. Louis, in his letter on the subject: "[T]he extraordinary form...may be celebrated by any priest, without special permission, under the conditions set forth by the Holy Father.")

For a refreshing bit of muscular Christianity--in contrast to the flaccid and fearful approach of too many bishops--read Cardinal Burke's clarification on Canon 915.

21 September 2011

This Is What Mothers Get Excited Over

Myself included.

Modern Suggestion for Large Families

Courtesy of Rorate Caeli:
We propose to our many readers with numerous children the following:

(A) if the child was born on a Sunday, celebrate his birthday once every three years;

(B) if the child was born on an ordinary weekday, considering that he was not privileged to be born on the Lord's Day, you may compensate this by celebrating it every other year.

That way, you will be able to dedicate more time to each child's birthday and learn more about that child. Natural yearly cycles are just so overrated!

Bishop of Linz Dismisses Faithful Priest

After a smear campaign was launched against Fr. Andrzej Skoblicki (Diocese of Linz) by a small group of liberals who didn't like his preaching the unvarnished truths of the Catholic faith, Bishop Ludwig Schwarz has decided to suddenly dismiss the pastor from his parish--this in spite of the signed petition presented to the bishop by parishioners who love their priest. The reason the bishop gave for the dismissal was that Fr. Skoblicki could not "settle fears" and maintain a "Christian community."

Fr. Skoblicki offered his thoughts in an interview:
I have been under contract to preach to and exhort the people that the Eucharist is the presence of the Lord Jesus, to recognize His Body and Blood, and to recall that one can not receive Communion in a state of serious sin, from the earlier Linz Bishop, Maximilian Aichern, and later then from Bishop Schwarz. I have also always said that the unity of the work of the Holy Ghost is and always the fruit of the presence of Jesus in all the hearts of men.
KATH.NET: What do you want for the Diocese of Linz?

P. Andreas Skoblicki: That it uses its many possibilities and resources for the good and that they finally separate from the load of the past by a prayer of deliverance or expiation and free the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to declare it to the people without fear and relativistic confusion. Otherwise I wish the Diocese that they obey St. Peter, the Pope. I also thank the Diocese that they allowed me to work here, so I could experience certain conversion and could experience the nearness of God and His mercy.
When asked what plans he had for the future, the priest answered, "I want to be holy."

You can read the entire interview here.

Please keep this priest (and the bishop) in your prayers.

To send Fr. Skoblicki a message of support, you can write to him at this address: andreas.skoblicki@kath.net

Bishop Gries: Support Priests for Life

In spite of Bishop Zurek's plea that his brother bishops discourage the faithful from donating to Priests for Life, Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop Roger Gries has issued a public statement encouraging continued support of Fr. Pavone and his organization.
After undergoing the first part of a two-day procedure to abort a late-term fetus, the young woman, in extreme pain, left the clinic.
[W]e were all shocked as the girl collapsed in the doorway of the clinic as she was leaving. She was clearly in bad shape and in a lot of pain. A friend of hers picked up a baby out of a stroller and actually used it as a make-shift wheelchair. In all the astonishment, the girl expressed her desire to change her mind, and with her family's support we were ready to do whatever was needed to help the woman and save her baby.

20 September 2011

Paris Bans Muslim Prayer in Streets

Beginning this evening at midnight, holding Muslim prayers in the streets of Paris will be prohibited. The announcement was made by France's Interior Minister, Claude Gueant, in an interview published today by the daily Le Figaro, which noted that ''use of force'' against those not complying with the regulation had not been ruled out....For a long time Paris Muslims have met in the city streets on Friday, especially in the working class neighbourhood Goutte d'Or (18th arrondissement), due to a lack of space in mosques.
Not sure how I feel about this yet. The motives driving the secular government are certainly not the desire to protect Christianity, but rather stem from offended sensibilities against their concept of "Frenchness." I wonder how such legislation might affect other public displays of religion, e.g., eucharistic processions? Or the annual pilgrimage to Chartres (with public Masses and rosary recitations all along the way)? If the French government decides that such things offend their notions of "Frenchness" (remember, this is the country that, a mere two centuries ago, tried to crush the Catholic Church underfoot), will these also be banned?

"A tranquil mediocrity"

"God does not give Himself wholly until He sees that we are giving ourselves wholly to Him." --St. Teresa of Avila

St. Teresa laughs somewhat mischievously at those who are afraid of doing too much for God, and under pretext of prudence, measure their acts of virtue with a yardstick: "You need never fear that they will kill themselves; they are eminently reasonable folk! Their love is not yet ardent enough to overwhelm their reason. How I wish ours would make us dissatisfied with this habit of always serving God at a snail's pace! As long as we do that we shall never get to the end of the road. Do you think that if we could get from one country to another in a week, it would be advisable to take a year over it?" (Int. Castle, III, 2).
To become generous, we must learn to do with our whole heart, not only what is a duty, but also what, though not obligatory, will give more glory to God...[to do otherwise is] settling down into a tranquil mediocrity.
--Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., 290

19 September 2011

Il Faut Que La France Survive!

As one admittedly proud of the French blood coursing through her veins, I read with interest Valle Adurni's succinct and interesting summary of the history of Catholic France. In the following excerpt, he provides some insight into an aspect of traditionalist France difficult for non-French (particularly Americans) to understand:

So, you have two strands of self-understanding in France. The traditional religious standpoint adheres to the Clovis moment as being the decisive moment of French self-understanding. Here you will find many monarchists and right-wingers, many, if not most of whom are also Catholics of a traditional persuasion, going regularly to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. These have a traditional notion of the Glory of France, so it is not to be wondered at that many of these families' sons end up in the army. I heard somewhere that a few years ago, one of the great military schools (?St Cyr?) actually appointed its chaplain from the Fraternity of St Peter because so few of the students wanted the Ordinary Form of the Mass. So, in France, traditionalism in religious matters more often than not involves all these other things as well. It is a culture, an outlook entirely of itself, and not well understood outside France. in the States, in the UK, traditionalism is mostly about religion (though in the US there can be associated matters like Republicanism, opposition to big government, the right to bear arms and the rest, but they are not essentially linked, just the same sorts of people tend to hold the same sorts of views). In France, the linkage is a real one; this school of thought is usually called Integrism; a complete vision for France, one might say, honouring her glorious past (but not, of course, the revolution and all that stands for), and working to make it her future too. Il faut que la France survive!
Andrew Cusack has conveniently amassed links to the several-part series here.

T-shirt logos for large families

My favorite: We're not trying to overpopulate the earth... just outnumber the idiots!

Liechtenstein Votes Against Legalizing Abortion

Proponents of the referendum had sought to legalise abortion within 12 weeks of conception.

Termination of pregnancy carries a penalty of up to a year in prison even if it is carried out abroad.

Prince Alois already signalled his opposition ahead of the vote, saying that he would not sign the text into law. Liechtenstein's government and parliament are also opposed to it.

The prince said he was opposed to such legislation because it could be misused to prevent the births of handicapped children.
The United Nations has repeatedly asked Liechtenstein to stop criminalising abortion.

The House is Burning Down--Throw Your Bit of Water on It

The Department of Health and Human Services has proposed a rule requiring nearly all private health insurance plans to cover contraception (including abortifacients). The mandate would coerce Catholic groups to buy and offer such services (the religious exemption is so narrow that many Catholic hospitals, colleges, and charities would fall outside of it).

The public comment period ends September 30th.

It's essential that you make your voice known. There have been a lot of complaints in the media and blogs about it, but they're next to useless if the HHS doesn't hear from you directly. The HHS is required to take public comments into account before implementing any regulations, so it needs to hear from as many of you as possible who oppose this measure. It will take two seconds of your time. Please send your comments here.

An Oldie but Goodie

Fr. Z thoroughly fisks an article from America magazine on the revised translation of the Missal, which replaces "for all" (pro multis) with "for many." As many know, this has been a serious point of contention among traditionalists for many years. Predictably, the author (Dominican Paul Philibert) objects to the substitution, although it's been in the works since at least 2006, when Pope Benedict directed the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to communicate his intention that the translations be rendered more accurate in this way.

On a related note, Cardinal Burke addresses the pro multis translation in this interesting video interview (at the 15-minute mark).

18 September 2011

In other parts of the world our brothers in Christ are suffering for their faith. And here we are at ease, just undergoing a slight test and dividing our loyalty between Christ and the world. We must realize in minds and hearts that this is a new age, that we will have to be a creative minority, and that the only argument that is left to convince others is holiness. The world has heard every other argument, and it is ready to reject them all, all except one: holiness.

+ Servant of God, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen


I can't say enough good things about this website.

Forget the critics, many of whom have very little acquaintance with the broad, wide-ranging (completely orthodox) content of this site, or who have little acquaintance with the founder himself (who has the curious ability to wear pink and seem even more masculine).

I hope you'll support RealCatholicTV, if not financially, then at least in prayer. It is a worthy apostolate, and deserves to be more widely known. It recently celebrated its third birthday. Here's to many more...

By the way, CatholicCulture.org downgraded its approval of RCTV to "questionable" status with regard to its fidelity to the Magisterium, after watching its episode exploring the roots of the Novus Ordo rite and Abp. Bugnini's control and direction of the Consilium tasked with revising the liturgy. Since CatholicCulture.org asks for comments from readers on its reviews, I decided to send in the following note:
Hello! I noticed that you have listed RCTV's fidelity as "questionable." Such a serious charge can do irreparable harm to the reputation of a Catholic apostolate whose sole desire is to save souls. Therefore, I hope you can substantiate this charge with 100% accuracy.

I notice that you charge RCTV with oversimplification of major issues. I believe, however, that your review falls into this very trap.

For instance, you claim that RCTV's investigative episode on the Novus Ordo Mass pitted a handful of traditionalist authors, e.g., Dietrich von Hildebrand, against the authority of the Popes. This is simply untrue. You make no mention of the Ottaviani intervention, which was comprised of bishops and theologians who issued a document noting serious misgivings about the revised liturgy. You also did not mention that only a minority of the Synod of Bishops actually approved the Novus Ordo outright when it came up for a vote in 1967. The rest either rejected it completely or had serious reservations. And regardless of Abp. Bugnini's potential freemasonic ties, which will probably never be known this side of heaven (although there is very strong evidence those ties existed), there is no doubt that he made the following statement: "We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Protestants." The revised liturgy followed this directive in every way.

Msgr. Klaus Gamber has written essentially the same criticisms of the Novus Ordo Rite, and this very book has been cited *approvingly* by Pope Benedict. And Michael Davies was far more extensive and wide-ranging in his criticism of the revised liturgy, and our Holy Father has called Davies "a true son of the Church." No question of his fidelity, at least, from the point of view of the Pope himself! Why, then, CatholicCulture presumes to express such serious misgivings about RCTV, thus damaging its reputation, is puzzling.
I doubt anyone there will pay much attention to what I have to say, but it needed to be said nonetheless.

17 September 2011


As much as I respect Dr. Edward Peters, I find his personal reflections in reaction to Fr. Pavone's latest statement to be utterly off the mark. In fact, there were portions that had me shaking my head in disbelief. Clearly, this man--for all his good intentions--has very little concept of the complete tragedy and sickening evil that is abortion. He even claims the distress Fr. Pavone experiences daily over this grave evil is no different from the distress the average parent feels over raising children. Really? I suppose I could see the comparison--if your children are in danger of being hacked apart limb from limb by a doctor, with the consent of the government, for no other reason than that their mother doesn't want them.

Fr. Pavone wrote:
The images of their mangled bodies accompany me to sleep and greet me when I awake; the cries of their silent voices mingle in my ears with the voices of those who speak to me; their aggrieved rights come to the forefront of my mind when anyone’s “rights” are discussed.
And Dr. Peters' response?
Well, if that's true, Father, then you need some time off. I mean it. If the last thoughts through your mind each night are not ones of gratitude that the Lord gave you another day on this earth, but only mangled bodies, and if the first thing you think of each morning is not His assured triumph over every evil, but more mangled bodies, then, you need some time off.
For heaven's sake. I am at a loss.

Change the scenario. Let's say a 1940s priest ministering to Jews at Auschwitz expressed the same thoughts as Fr. Pavone. Would Dr. Peters dare to respond so glibly, so patronizingly to such horrors?

And yet abortion is a far graver evil than what took place at Auschwitz.

There are souls who are called in a special way to fight this great injustice, courageous souls who have taken bullet after bullet, slander, opposition for these most innocent victims, and who are willing to die for them. And yet some canon lawyer decides to weigh in, whose own personal contribution to fighting this war is not publicly known, and offer off-base commentary that does nothing to help the situation.

At one point, the canon lawyer counsels, "Okay, fine, let’s do set aside the righteous rhetoric."

Yes, Dr. Peters, let's do.

On a related note:Dr. Peter Kreeft responds to the withdrawal of some Canadian bishops from a pro-life event when they could not guarantee that graphic images of abortion would not be shown.
"What is wrong with exposing people to the truth?" Kreeft proposed. "Suppose you were allowed to show the horrors in Auschwitz to the average German citizen. It might have toppled Hitler earlier. If something horrible is happening, covering it up is more horrible."

Kreeft said that the images are "probably going to be illegal. You'll probably be thrown in jail."

He then recounted a story about a pro-life activist who picketed with a graphic image as President Bill Clinton entered the 1992 Democratic Convention in New York, and was arrested despite being well outside the 10-foot limit.

"None of the TV cameras filmed that incident. Well, if a hundred people did that, the TV cameras would have to film it," he said. "If a hundred bishops marched with those pictures and got thrown in jail, the newspapers would have to headline '100 bishops thrown in jail'."

"That would be wonderful," he continued. "Not because I hate bishops, because I love them."

Land of Luther Now Almost Entirely Atheist

Few posters or papal flags welcoming the pope can be seen, though on the steep steps up to the medieval Catholic cathedral a drunk yells instructions to builders erecting an altar for a Mass for 85,000 people.

Austrian Call to Obedience Grows to 180 Clergy

In reaction to the Call to Disobedience of Austrian priests who dissent from Catholic teaching, a growing number of clergy are joining the Call to Obedience. Good news, I suppose, but are there so few faithful priests in that country that the dissenters still outnumber the obedient by nearly 2:1?

16 September 2011

How Uncharitable!

The accusation surely would have been leveled against St. Leonard of Port Maurice by modern Catholics, had they heard him preach on the number of the damned.
[T]here are more damned souls than predestined souls.
You will hear Saint Gregory saying clearly, "Many attain to faith, but few to the heavenly kingdom." Saint Anselm declares, "There are few who are saved." Saint Augustine states even more clearly, "Therefore, few are saved in comparison to those who are damned." The most terrifying, however, is Saint Jerome. At the end of his life, in the presence of his disciples, he spoke these dreadful words: "Out of one hundred thousand people whose lives have always been bad, you will find barely one who is worthy of indulgence."
And on the clergy, he said,
I am horror-struck when I hear Saint Jerome declaring that although the world is full of priests, barely one in a hundred is living in a manner in conformity with state; when I hear a servant of God attesting that he has learned by revelation that the number of priests who fall into hell each day is so great that it seemed impossible to him that there be any left on earth; when I hear Saint Chrysostom exclaiming with tears in his eyes, "I do not believe that many priests are saved; I believe the contrary, that the number of those who are damned is greater."

Cardinal Burke at Notre Dame de Fontgombault

On August 22nd, The cardinal offered Mass in the extraordinary form at the ancient French Benedictine Abbey. Lovely photos.

Euthanasia for Loneliness

The Dutch Physicians Association (AKNMG) has released a position paper proposing that doctors opposed to euthanizing patients be required to refer them to a doctor who will euthanize them. The paper also broadens the scope of qualifying patients to those who suffer from loneliness and vulnerability:
AKNMG chair Arie Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman said weighing up non-medical factors was far from simple:

"It's quite possible that the same constellation of factors would be experienced as unbearable and lasting suffering by one patient but quite tolerable by another. This makes it extremely difficult."

The physicians association says further investigation into non-medical factors is needed and Dr Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman adds that euthanasia should be allowed even when a patient is not suffering from a terminal disease:

"It doesn't always have to be a physical ailment, it could be the onset of dementia or chronic psychological problems, it's still unbearable and lasting suffering. It doesn't always have to be a terminal disease."
Of course, the target group is the elderly. It is said the position paper is a response to a recent Dutch poll showing that a third of Dutch physicians refuse to practice euthanasia, 3/4 refuse to euthanize a patient who merely feared future suffering, and 80% will not lethally inject a patient who is simply "tired of living."

15 September 2011

What Happens When You Reject the Magisterium

Televangelist Pat Robertson claims divorce is justified if your spouse has Alzheimer's.
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his "700 Club" viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer's is justifiable because the disease is "a kind of death."
"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her," Robertson said.
I want to say, "Wow", but, really, no one should be surprised.

14 September 2011

Breaking News on Holy See's Meeting with SSPX

Update: Bishop Fellay's statement after the meeting.

Rorate Caeli has the full communiqué here.
In the course of the same meeting, some elements were proposed regarding a canonical solution for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, which would follow the eventual and hoped-for reconciliation.
It's sounding very good.

The SSPX has been given a Doctrinal Preamble to sign.
Father Lombardi would not respond to questions about specific church teachings and developments listed in the preamble, but said church tradition always has held there are varying degrees of church teaching; some require an absolute assent while others are open to interpretation.
This is a good place to remind those who labor under the false impression that the SSPX is schismatic that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has affirmed repeatedly that the SSPX is not in formal schism. I cannot support the disobedience of the SSPX, but to claim--as many misinformed Catholics do--that it is in schism is to prove too much.
"My dear brother bishops, it’s crucial for those of us who are bishops not simply to look like bishops but to truly be bishops. Otherwise, we’re just empty husks -- the kind of men St Augustine referred to when he said, 'You say, He must be a bishop for he sits upon the cathedra. True – and a scarecrow might be called a watchman in the vineyard.'

--Abp. Charles Chaput, Installation Mass, Philadelphia
It's difficult enough to live out one's vocation when one is attacked by the world--how much harder when a priest is attacked by those within the Church Herself?

Surely this public back-and-forth between a priest and his bishop is disconcerting and perhaps disheartening to some Catholics--but it will at least open the eyes of the more naïve among us to the politics and ego-playing that go on in too many dioceses today, starting, most unfortunately, from the bishop's own chair. Priests for Life is leading the charge in one of the most crucial battles of our time, and Bishop Zurek's public accusations can have only one effect: to hurt the cause of the unborn.

Catholics for Choice is already running the story, no doubt with some satisfaction, and citing only the Bishop's accusations of financial mismanagement--no reference at all to Fr. Pavone's very thorough and detailed response. Wait for the rest of the pro-choice media to catch on.

And the Catholic peanut gallery is weighing in with the usual musings, comparing him to Fr. Euteneuer or Corapi (I expect a reference to Fr. Maciel soon), and falsely accusing Fr. Pavone of disobedience. One fellow writes, "If thirty pieces Pavone is for real, he will submit himself to his spiritual authority, and allow the Lord Jesus to vendicate [sic] him. If Pavone resists in anyway, It will prove the bishop right."

What naïveté and ignorance. These people assume that anyone who wears a mitre is unquestionably correct, and any priest who exercises his canonical rights against what he deems an unjust suspension must be ranging himself on the side of the devil. To these, I say: wake up.

13 September 2011

Here is a truth worth meditating upon: Women are more geared to piety because they have a keener awareness of their weakness. This is their true strength.

--Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

12 September 2011

Muscular Christianity

Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops, like bishops, and your religious act like religious.--Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1972

I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.--Revelations 3:15-16
If you hear heresy taught at your parish or see serious liturgical abuse, it's not enough to get with your group of friends and grumble about it, or go online and complain to your little Catholic clique. That changes nothing. Get off your duff and do something. Charitably, respectfully--but do something. Prayer, of course, must always come first--then action. I'm convinced if every Catholic had the chutzpah to change things for the better, things would change.

And if you're finding it hard to fight the inertia, think of it this way: what if your priest had told the whole parish during the homily that your wife was an adulterer, or your husband was a weakling, or your child was lacking in intelligence? Would you go home, gripe a bit, then turn on the TV? Or would you react with justifiable outrage? The latter, one hopes! If you don't react with outrage, I'd really have to question your mettle as a man, or as a wife, or as a mother. It's the natural expression of love. It would be justice, it would be charity to defend your loved one. Would any excuse or rationalization stand in your way? Would you refrain from giving the priest a piece of your mind because, "oh, well, he won't listen anyway" or "I can't change his opinion" or "it's disrespectful to confront a man of the cloth"? None of those excuses would stop you, because it would be a matter of defending their honor.

Why, then, when we hear falsehoods uttered from the pulpit about Our Lord, whom we should love with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, do we just walk out and essentially do nothing? Is it because we do not love enough? If not, why not? Have we so allowed distractions and worldly concerns to crowd Him out that our zeal has turned into apathy? Do we so fear the opinion of secular man that we don't want to appear too zealous, overly fanatical, too "obsessed" with our religion?

Fr. Ray Blake has a nice bit of satire (prompted by various people's reactions to the recent talk Michael Voris gave in London) on the discomfort modern English Catholics can feel over boldly spoken faith. I'd say the average American in the pews is probably not as keen himself over the same.

Hilaire Belloc, that giant of the faith, was the single most influential Catholic man in his day in England. Chesterton only rose to prominence after the fact, and actually attributed much of his understanding of the faith to his friendship with "Hilary". In his time, it was Belloc who led the charge. This was a man who wore his Catholicism on his sleeve at a time when it was not only terribly unfashionable to do so, but could result in discrimination and unfavorable treatment at school and at work. Remember, it was turn-of-the-century protestant England in which he lived, where only a few years previous a man couldn't even attend Oxford University without swearing an oath to uphold the 39 Articles, and where the Act of Supremacy remains in force to this day. English Catholics went about their lives quietly, fully aware of their minority status, in general not wishing to ruffle feathers or draw attention to their perceived "superstitions." Not so Belloc. He roared like a lion, and instead of taking the timid and defensive posture of so many Catholics of his day, took the offense, challenging revisionist Protestant history in book after book and debate after debate.

He never tried to make the faith palatable to the masses by diluting its content. He never apologized for, say, his devotion to Mary, or his unswerving allegiance to the papacy, in spite of the derision he faced from the intelligentsia. When he went to his interview for teaching fellow at Oxford, his first act was to retrieve a statue of the Blessed Virgin from his pocket and place it on his desk. He never received the fellowship, and ever afterward (not without some resentment) attributed it to this "unseemly" display of faith.

During one of his public speeches when he was running for Parliament, a heckler accused him of being a "papist." He stopped his speech, took out a rosary from his pocket, and addressed him directly: "Sir, so far as possible I hear Mass each day and I go to my knees and tell these beads each night. If that offends you, then I pray God may spare me the indignity of representing you in Parliament!"

Things could have ended as badly as they did with the fellowship. But in this case, the crowd cheered, and he went on to win the election.

Where is such muscular Christianity today? God bless the holy clergy who are sacrificing and expending all for the faith. They are the ones who will see the harvest of souls they have reaped when they arrive in Heaven, and will receive their crown. I do not address them. All the rest--the only thing I'll say is this: don't wait around for your bishop or priest to change the world. Let that muscular, manly faith begin with you.

11 September 2011

The Holy Name of Mary

The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary was suppressed after the liturgical revisions following Vatican II, but restored as an optional memorial to September 12th in the revised Missal.
After the most holy and adorable Name of Jesus, there is no name more glorious or more powerful than the name of Mary. At the mention of this name, the Angels rejoice and the devils tremble; through this invocation of this name, sinners obtain grace and pardon. --St. Peter Canisius

As wax melts before fire, so do the devils lose their power against those souls who remember the name of Mary and devoutly invoke it. --St. Bonaventure

Her Son esteems Her prayers so greatly, and is so desirous to satisfy Her, that when She prays it seems as if She rather commanded than prayed, and was rather a queen than a handmaid." --St. Peter Damian
An insightful little treatise on Mary is a 19th-century booklet titled Mary Crushes the Serpent (it can be ordered here). It's written by an unnamed German exorcist with 30 years of experience, who witnessed firsthand how the demons cower in terror at the name of Mary more than at any other name.

Fr. Gabriel Amorth, chief exorcist of Rome, also recounts the same--and has observed that, although the demons will freely curse God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they are unable to curse the name of Mary.

10 September 2011

On Heroic Confidence

The Heavenly Father created the whole universe with one single word; can it be difficult for Him to assist His sons in their hour of need? Saint Camillus of Lellis went into debt in order to help the sick poor. Seeing this, his fellow religious became alarmed. "Why doubt Providence?" the Saint quieted them. "Can it be difficult for Our Lord to give us a little of those goods that He heaps upon the Jews and the Turks, enemies one and the other of our Faith?" The confidence of Camillus was not disappointed; one month later, one of his protectors, upon dying, left him a considerable sum.

--Fr. Thomas de Saint-Laurent, The Book of Confidence

09 September 2011

My Book in the Bod

After spending many a happy hour at Oxford's Bodleian scribbling away at my master's thesis, it's rather neat to see it in book form there in the stacks. (Of course, this honor is granted to any student who writes a thesis, passes his viva, and matriculates, so I'm not terribly unique in this regard. I also notice it's in "remote storage"... lol)

As to my viva, I don't think I've ever been more nervous in my life. I went in there with cotton mouth, sat at a lone chair and desk in front of a panel of severe-looking blackrobed dons (two men and a woman), and proceeded to endure the grilling. My thesis was controversial: I argued that Augustine's maxim Crede, ut intelligas ("Believe in order that you may understand") was justified by 20th-century epistemology and showed the true way in which humans go about acquiring knowledge. I rejected the rationalist thesis that reason alone is sufficient to gain knowledge. Faith must come first, and then understanding; without faith, we can never gain a true knowledge of the world in any subject, whether it be psychology, science, or anything in between. I used examples from the philosophy of Wittgenstein, W.V.O. Quine, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, and Michael Polanyi, among others, to demonstrate this--and then (this is where the syncretistic theology professor objected) I ended up arguing that the most accurate picture of the world could not be gained except through the Christian faith. (I was a Protestant at the time, unfortunately, so I naturally argued in favor of the Protestant position; today, of course, I would say it is the Catholic view of the world that is the most accurate.)

No, the dons did not like that at all. But I stood fast on my point, even at one time telling the fellow in the middle--very respectfully--that he had not grasped my point. I expected to fail my viva after that--and was delighted to discover that the panel had found my thesis compelling enough to allow me to continue on in their doctoral program. The only trouble they had was deciding whether or not I should continue in the department of theology or philosophy--and they finally chose the latter. It was decided I should pursue studies under Richard Swinburne. So I left very happy indeed.

For lack of money, though (Oxford, as you can imagine, is expensive), and a desire to get married, I eventually turned it down, returned to the States--and ended up going to law school instead, where, in my third year, I would return to the Catholic faith...

Mel Gibson to Make Film on Maccabees

07 September 2011

The power that women can wield over men is great indeed. If they pursue their own selfish aims, women are Satan's slaves. If they put their charm at God's service, they are God's great allies.... "It is, above all, by means of woman that piety is first awakened and spreads its mysterious influence over society...Providence makes use to prepare the way for civilization...should she prove false to her high mission, society would perish." (Ratisbonne)

--Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

My dear ladies, if you have not yet read this book, you must. It is a treasure.

06 September 2011


I hate, hate, hate seeing this, and I've seen it all too often (and at which Mass, I wonder?). When our own priests treat the Sacred Species as anything but, how can we possibly expect the laity to think differently? A reader asks Fr. Z:
This morning we got the double whammy. After subjecting us to the “We are the Eucharist” homily, the priest, after moving the Hosts from one ciborium to another, brushed his hands off over the floor (carpeted.) Is there any measure that should be taken in respect to fallen particles?
Fr. Z's response: "Awful."

And I say, it is much more than awful. It is sacrilege.

If every single particle, no matter how tiny, of the Sacred Host is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord, whole and entire, then to deliberately scatter the Host all over the floor, to be trampled underfoot, is sacrilege.

Nevermind the fact that this is happening all the time where Holy Communion is received in the hand. Particles are inevitably left behind in the palm. Back when I used to receive in the hand, I nearly always saw particles left in my palm. Even after I licked my palm to ensure none were left, my conscience was always troubled as to whether or not I had gotten every one, until I finally had it and decided to receive on the tongue and solve the problem once and for all. Most Catholics don't bother worrying about this sort of thing; they dismiss it as "scrupulosity" or a too great focus on God's judgment rather than on his mercy.

To these I say: Nonsense! Rubbish!

If this is "scrupulous", then the Church Herself was scrupulous who, for 1500 years before the Novus Ordo was implemented, would not allow the priest to touch the consecrated Host with anything but the thumb and forefinger, and once Our Lord was touched, the thumb and forefinger had to be stuck fast together and could touch nothing else throughout the rest of the liturgy until they could be purified, for fear that any particles left on the fingers might drop. That meant that turning pages, picking up the Chalice, or handling anything else had to be done with the other three fingers, as awkward or inconvenient as it might have been. Well, modern Catholics are saying, good thing the Church has done away with all that "scrupulosity", eh? And with it has gone wholesale the belief in the Real Presence, for 70% of Catholics today do not believe in it.

These are surely the same people who find utterly foreign the notion that any man would die to protect the Sacred Host. St. Tarcisius, a mere child, clung to the Eucharist and died from the blows he received rather than give it up to the raging mob. And then there is this touching story, about the 11-year-old Chinese girl whose martyrdom so inspired Archbishop Fulton Sheen he vowed to make a daily holy hour after her example.

When the Communists took over a little town in China in 1949, the soldiers imprisoned the priest, who watched in horror from his cell as they rushed into the church, broke into the Tabernacle, and scattered the consecrated Hosts all over the floor. He knew the exact number of Hosts he had left in the ciborium: 32. And each night, he observed how one little Chinese girl from the parish, alone, snuck into the chapel, made a holy hour, and then knelt down and, with her tongue, picked up one Sacred Host and received it. This continued each night for 32 nights--and on the last night, after receiving the last Host, she accidentally made a noise, waking the guard, who proceeded to beat her to death with the butt of his rifle.

Fast forward half a century, and we see priests handling the Host like potato chips, brushing off the "crumbs" onto the floor, or wiping their noses with the same hands that have just touched the consecrated species. This is frankly one of the reasons I could not bear to continue attending the Novus Ordo anymore; it was wrecking my faith to see the very men ennobled to call down Our Lord from Heaven into a humble piece of bread treating that same Lord with such abject carelessness--and allowing parishioners to treat Him in the same way, saying nothing to them for fear of offending. How could they possibly believe, I wondered? Preach on the Real Presence all you want, but if you yourself treat it as if it were not Real, then your words ring hollow.

I once heard of a woman who had doubts about the Real Presence, and she wondered whether or not her parish priest truly believed. So one day she decided to stay behind in the chapel after Mass to observe how the priest himself behaved. She hid behind one of the back pews, and observed the priest, who believed he was alone. Without fail, each time he passed before the Tabernacle, he genuflected. She left knowing precisely what he believed--and her own faith was strengthened thereby.

This is not about scrupulosity, or about a focus on God's judgment rather than His mercy. Of course God is merciful; if we unwittingly drop particles of consecrated Host on the floor, He will forgive--in the same way, perhaps, that a mother will forgive her neighbor for accidentally dropping her infant on the floor! Yes, there is forgiveness--but that forgiveness doesn't diminish the gravity of the offense. Should we not do ALL in our power to ensure that such desecration never takes place, unwittingly or no? And if not, why not? Are we so complacent, so lax, so lacking in love (for that is really what it is) that we simply can't be bothered? This is not about, as some Catholic bloggers have said, an "über-obsession" with communion in the hand, or the difference between a preference for chocolate versus some other flavor. (Heavens, I can't believe I even read such lines from such a well-known Catholic apologist--who shall remain nameless.) This is about sacrilege, pure and simple, and the negligence and complacency of too many in the church today--including clergy--who are seemingly indifferent toward our Eucharistic Lord.

In the last, what it comes down to is love--not ideology, not politics, not sectarianism or any of that other nonsense that the unthinking or complacent dismiss such concerns with with a roll of the eyes. It comes down to love. Do we love? And if we love Christ with all that we have, does He not deserve to be treated as most precious, most sacred, to be held in highest reverence and honor?

05 September 2011

"God be praised, if I know my own heart at all, I am free of this stupid passion the world calls love." --Methodist George Whitefield

It is a Puritan error to claim conjugal love is solely for procreative purposes. The Catholic Church has never taught this. Love is always and ever the fundament and crown of marital love--and the procreative aspect simply flows from this. Conjugal love is not justified purely by its procreative purpose; this is why those who suffer sterility are not kept from marital intimacy, and can still be, if not physically fruitful, then spiritually fruitful in their love. Dietrich von Hildebrand, whose own marriage remained childless, wrote:
[T]he physical union between man and woman still retains its subjective significance and its intrinsic beauty. Is conjugal love in itself not sublime enough to sanctify and justify this union? Is not the reason for the creation of woman stated in Genesis: "It is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a help like unto himself." Can a childless marriage be regarded as a failure, as something that did not fulfill its meaning? Can we justly assert that it would have been better if such a marriage had not been brought to pass? Can it not have its full divinely-appointed meaning simply as the highest communion of love, and glorifying God by this very fact? Is not the ideal of marriage fulfilled to an even higher degree when both partners, even though childless, belong to each other in the most perfect conjugal love, in unchangeable loyalty to one another, in imitation of the union of the soul with God, than in the case of a marriage with perhaps many children, where the partners are unfaithful to each other and desecrate the sacred tie by lack of love and loyalty?...Is this not a clear indication that marriage is a symbol of the union of the soul with God, that it possesses, as such, a sublime importance and that it exists in the first place for its own sake and not exclusively for the sake of any result that it produces?

Pope Benedict on Charity and the Duty of Fraternal Correction

[B]rotherly love also includes reciprocal responsibility, on account of which, if my brother sins against me, I must be charitable to him and, first of all, speak with him personally, showing him that that what he said or did is not good. This way of behaving is called fraternal correction: it is not a reaction to the offense I have suffered but a being moved by love for my brother.

And what if my brother does not listen to me?

First go back and talk to him with two or three other persons so as to help him better grasp what he has done; if despite this he rejects the observation, the community must be told; and if he does not listen to the community either, it is necessary to make him see the rupture that he himself has provoked, separating himself from the Church.

All of this shows that there is a co-responsibility in the journey of the Christian life," the Pope concluded. "Everyone, conscious of his own limits and defects, is called to welcome fraternal correction and to help others with this particular service.

--Weekly Address, Sept. 4, 2011, Castel Gandolfo

04 September 2011

Unwittingly, feminists acknowledge the superiority of the male sex by wishing to become like men. They foolishly want to alter inequality rather than to achieve truth or justice. Femininity is a linchpin of human life; once it is uprooted, the consequences are disastrous. In fact, experience proves that feminism benefits men and harms women.

--Alice von Hildebrand, The Privilege of Being a Woman

Conjugal Love

Dietrich von Hildebrand's Marriage: The Mystery of Faithful Love is a little masterpiece and gem, and provides some profound meditations on the true nature of conjugal love. This short little work has transformed and enriched my understanding of marriage; I think it's required reading for all Catholics, unmarried or married for 50 years.

Von Hildebrand speaks of three categories of conjugal love: the highest is that of two souls united in one burning flame of love, where there is mutual attraction, adoration, and a wholehearted willingness to sacrifice all for the beloved. This is but a reflection of the Divine Love itself, which burns as a blazing furnace and with a fiery intensity for each human soul. Of such unions, Lacordaire said, "There are not two loves--an earthly and a divine one. It is one and the same feeling, with the sole difference that one is infinite."

Rare are those whose unions are so blessed!

The second type of conjugal love is that between those who may be betrothed to each other, but lack that natural attraction that is a gift of other unions. In this case, they love by fulfilling their obligations toward each other, serving each other, bearing each other's faults patiently, and sacrificing for the sake of the other; they always hope for the other's good.

The third type involves one who loves while the other is a source of suffering. The spouse who suffers injury must continue to remain faithful, bear this heavy cross without resentment, and always hope and pray for the other's conversion and salvation. It is a heavy cross indeed; the injured spouse takes part in Christ's own agonies, who was rejected "by His own"--there is no deeper cut than that inflicted by those closest to one's heart, by those most dear. Those spouses who faithfully bear this cross can be assured of the great crown that awaits them in Heaven.

On the first category:
In the beloved we love Christ.

By this fact conjugal love assumes also a character of purity and unselfishness not to be found even in the highest natural love. Conjugal love, like every authentic love, implies a genuine intention to make the beloved happy. He who loves is even more anxious for the happiness of the beloved than for his own. The lover lives in the beloved, seeks the happiness of the beloved, and not the enjoyment of his own love. But in the supernaturally transfigured conjugal love, this intention is elevated to a fervent desire for the eternal welfare of the beloved. The eternal welfare of the beloved is not only desired in the same way as the salvation of our neighbor in general, but with the particular consciousness that this is the person destined for me, whose salvation concerns me in a particular way and above all others. Collaboration in the sanctification of the beloved becomes the focus of our love, raising it gloriously above the life of this world. It embraces the beloved not only within the limits of this life and for this life, but also for eternity. The eternal welfare of the beloved is the culminating point of all that his love affirms. This lends to this love a touching selflessness which is not possessed even by the highest natural love.

03 September 2011

Our Lady's Brides

Just stumbled upon this website, and it looks as if it's worth supporting. Strictly for traditional Catholic women who intend to marry in the Church (or who may already be married). It doesn't look as if it's been active in some time, but it seems a valuable forum for like-minded Catholic ladies.

The September Martyrs

On September 2-3, 1792, in Paris, France, priests who had refused the oath to the Civil Constitution (which would have required them to renounce allegiance to the Church) were massacred wholesale. The first of the killings took place in a Carmelite Monastery, then used as a prison.

Jesuit priest Bd. Alexander Lenfant heard the confession of a fellow priest, then went to his death moments later as the horde descended on the clergy.
The mob called out, “Archbishop of Arles!” Archbishop John du Lau of Arles (Jean-Marie du Lau d’Alleman) was praying in the chapel. When summoned, he came out and he said, “I am he whom you seek.” Thereupon, they cracked his skull, stabbed him and trampled him underfoot. Then the leader set up a “tribunal” before which the imprisoned were herded and commanded to take the oath. All refused; so, as they passed down the stairway, they were hacked to pieces by the murderers.
The next day the mob took its bloodlust to the Lazarist seminary, where 90 clergy awaited execution; only four survived.

Most of Paris, cowed into fear, did nothing to stop the small number of murderers, who continued their rampage through the end of the year, killing as many as 1500 priests and religious. Pope Pius XI beatified 191 among these martyrs.

Fountain of Elias has a post on this subject.

02 September 2011

Catholic England

Michael Voris's rather inspiring talk in London last week.

We Love Our Priests

A beautiful and compelling talk on the duty of the priest, and the tremendous love and regard in which we should hold them.

What's in a Name?

How glad I am that I became Catholic before naming my children! What beautiful and illustrious names to choose from among the ranks of saints. This is why I am baffled when I read in parish bulletins that "Skyler Madison" or "Tyler Lane" was just baptized. For your information, my dear Catholic parents, the following are not female saints:


I've even heard of girls named Latrine and Vendetta, the poor things. Imagine forsaking the noble patronage and protection of great heroines of the faith in order to walk around bearing a title that brings to mind, of all things, fecal matter. Thanks, Mom.

Neither are the following male saints:


In the Old Testament, the name you received was prophetic; it encapsulated your character and personality, and could be either a blessing or a curse. When Catholics have so many valiant heroes after which to name their children, so many lovely and dignified names with which to bless them, why do we choose instead to follow the way of the world and curse them with the meaningless and the banal?

Well, considering the past 50 years or so, the loss of a distinctly Catholic identity, and the near-total triumph of the meaningless and banal, I suppose I can answer my own question...

01 September 2011

On Beauty

Cities and countries throughout the world house treasures of art that express the faith and call us to a relationship with God. Therefore, may our visits to places of art be not only an occasion for cultural enrichment--also this--but may they become, above all, a moment of grace that moves us to strengthen our bond and our conversation with the Lord, [that moves us] to stop and contemplate--in passing from the simple external reality to the deeper reality expressed--the ray of beauty that strikes us, that 'wounds' us in the intimate recesses of our heart and invites us to ascend to God.

--Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, Castel Gandolfo, Aug. 31, 2011

Speaking of beauty: this, and this.